The charming colonial city of Cartagena - perched on Colombia’s Caribbean coast - is bursting at the seams with quaint cobblestone streets, amazing architecture and cool bars and cafes. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984, the city invites you to take a trip back in time as you admire the colourful facades of the 16th and 17th century buildings and enjoy a rose-gold sunset from the city’s ancient ramparts.
During your Cartagena holidays, explore on foot or live like a local as you hop on the back of a brightly coloured 'chiva' (traditional bus) and visit some of the city’s most famous spots including the Inquisition Palace - which currently serves as a museum showcasing historical artefacts - the iconic Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower) and canary-yellow Plaza de los Coches. With warm temperatures and a cooling sea breeze, Cartagena is wonderful to visit all year round meaning you can enjoy this warm and lively city no matter the season.
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What you can find in Cartagena that you won't find anywhere else?
There's no real need for a map or a schedule in Cartagena; every street is picturesque, every turn in the road reveals another cobblestone street, colourful floral window boxes, and yet another picture perfect plaza. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the bougainvillea-draped city is often compared to Antigua in Guatemala or Cusco in Peru and really is one of Latin America's most attractive colonial cities, with boutique hotels and endless photo opportunities.
Whether you choose to explore Cartagena on foot, by horse and cart, or on the back of a brightly-coloured chiva, there are many specific sights to see, as well as indulging in the delightful pastime of simply soaking up the atmosphere on the streets and in the cafés and bars.
The heart of the city is the old town, which is divided into inner and outer sections, and south of here lie the three affluent districts of the peninsula. The real colonial architectural gems are within El Centro and San Diego, in the inner section of the old town, where churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions appear round every corner.
Cartagena's walled old city is itself a fortress, and around the city there are others to visit; notably Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, generally considered to be the greatest ever built by the colonising Spanish.
The film adaptation of Colombian Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez' 'Love in the Time of Cholera' was largely filmed in Cartagena's historic quarter and as a testament to the city's charm, the film's director Mike Newell has now bought a house in Cartagena.